Happy Post-Pandemic Star Wars Day: Boba Fett’s Take on Good Tribalism

Unaltered from “Boba Fett – A Fett to Remember” Creative Commons License

Here comes another Star Wars Day. It’s got me thinking about chapters 3 and 4 of The Book of Boba Fett, where the main character invites us to discern the difference between good and bad tribalism as he reflects on his own character transformation that came from being adopted by the Sandpeople: “It’s made me strong. You can only get so far without a tribe.”

Unaltered from “Sand People Have Families too” Creative Commons License

Fett’s “Dances with Sandpeople” was a transformative encounter that revealed the aim of the Sandpeople to practice what I’ve come to call “supportive antagonism.” In a much less brutal mode, it’s part of good high school education (and coaching and parenting) as we help form resilience and thoughtfulness in young people by giving them hard things to learn.

Boba Fett’s post-Return of the Jedi insights represent his realization that individuals, tribes, and official organizations all have deep flaws that need to be reformed so that people can become better human beings. A few decades of teaching in a public high school (in an Outer-Rim county) have me thinking about how challenging that aim can be in our time.

Perhaps these lines from Boba Fett capture some of the frustrations of such challenges of trying to flourish while working in our educational institutions:

  • “I’m tired of working for idiots who are gonna get me killed.” [At least soul- or brain-wise.]
  • “How many times have you been hired to do a job that was avoidable?” [Or signed up for a committee or project team that was avoidable and unnecessary?]
  • “If they only took the time to think.” [Enough said.]
  • “Take it from an ex-bounty hunter. Don’t work for scugholes.” [If you’re thinking about freelancing as an educator, stay away from both Jabba the Hut or Darth Vader types as much as possible!]

Although some quips are hyperbolic for our situations, I’ll leave room for educators in different places and stages of their careers to consider how applicable each comment is for their teaching and workplace contexts.

That crusty curmudgeon Kurt Vonnegut often opines a similar sentiment about tribes and communities: “But anyway, it’s obvious through human experience that extended families and tribes are terribly important. We can do without an extended family as human beings about as easily as we can do without vitamins or essential minerals.”

Everywhere I turn, I hear the call to rebuild healthy relationships along with an invitation to reconsider our unhealthy views of ourselves, dysfunctions unveiled by the pandemic’s testing of our individual and social ways of being in the world. Whether we’re leaving teaching by taking early retirement and moving on to career 2.0 or sticking around to pursue that teaching career further, we’ve got a lot of inner and outer work to do.

There are many excellent resources available that can help us work this out much better than Star Wars snippets can. There is a way. For this day of that journey, May the 4th be with you!

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